Don’t use or eat parts of endangered animals
Part of the fun of visiting a different country is the adventure of trying out new cuisines with exotic delicacies you’ve never tried before and you would be forgiven for assuming that dishes openly listed on a restaurant menu are legally sourced and sold. Unfortunately, the reality is that many establishments, particularly in Southern China and countries in Southeast Asia such as Vietnam, still serve dishes prepared with products from endangered and protected animals. Demand for this type of ‘luxury meat’ continues to drive poaching and trafficking and by actively avoiding these products you can help end the unsustainable exploitation of threatened animal species.
Tigers and other big cats
Besides use of their body parts for either decoration or medicinal products, big cats such as tigers, leopards and snow leopards are also in high demand for their meat, which is considered a delicacy in several Asian countries such as China and Vietnam. Restaurants may serve tiger products either as a main dish (e.g. ‘sauté tiger meat’) or in a ‘tiger bone wine’ made by steeping wine in tiger bone. Snow leopard meat is also considered a rare delicacy in Sichuan province, in China.
The widespread poaching and trade of pangolins is driven by demand for their scales (highly sought after for use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)) but also their meat. In West Africa, pangolins are widely consumed as bushmeat. In China and Vietnam, pangolin meat is considered a rare delicacy and luxury item served in high-end restaurants. Animals may even be brought out and shown to customers while still alive before being killed and served in a variety of ways including steamed meat, tongue soup or soaked in wine.
Despite a ban on the international trade of whale products to protect these threatened species, there are still a few countries where you might find whale meat on a restaurant menu including Iceland, Norway, Japan and Greenland. While often marketed as a ‘traditional dish’ to tourists, demand for whale meat is decreasing in all these countries and by not eating whale meat when visiting them you can help end the cruel practice of whaling in the few places it still takes place.
We have highlighted a few examples here of particular species you can look out for but the list does not end here: threatened animal species such as monitor lizards, giant salamanders, wild snakes, owls, sharks (e.g. shark fin soup) and bears (e.g. bear paws) are also widely consumed in China and Vietnam despite being protected in the wild.